Gurdwara drama: Hackney's Sikh community will finally have its own temple after High Court settles nine-year row
PUBLISHED: 20:30 17 October 2018
Hackney's Sikh community will finally have its own gurdwara after a High Court judge settled a nine-year dispute surrounding a derelict site in Clapton.
The old Ship Aground pub in Lea Bridge Road was bought by the Singh Sabha Gurdwara North East London in 2009, two years after plans were rejected to convert its existing base, a residential property in Finsbury Park.
But money ran out with little progress made, and members of the community began to question the running of the business by the commitee and trustees.
Calls for AGMs to be held were ignored. So too were the results of two votes to replace the existing top table with new board members, in 2014 and 2015.
In October last year the members who had been voted in applied for a High Court hearing to settle who was lawfully in charge.
And on September 26 Master Shuman ruled in favour of the claimants and ordered the committee to hand over the keys.
The victorious group said: “We anticipate we will be in full control in the coming weeks, and developing plans as to how the objectives can be progressed. It is sad to see a building bought in 2009 to be the new temple is – after nine years and a great deal of expenditure – still a building site.”
Jagmohan Singh is the new president of the gurdwara, which was founded in 1977. He said: “I would like to reassure everyone my committee and trustees will do everything they can to restore services which have not been available since the closure of Gloucester Drive.
“We will be seeking support from Hackney Council, councillors, tenant’s committees and members to help us to succeed.”
Regarding the old committee members, Jag said an internal review would be held to decide their future, but did not rule out suspending them or taking away their memership. He said: “They are still members but obviously we are trying to establish what happened in terms of finances and decision they made.”
One of the unresolved issues surrounds a £73,000 bill for emergency scaffolding that Hackney Council had to pay for after the previous contractors dismantled their apparatus over non-payment.
Lea Bridge’s Cllr Ian Rathbone said: “At last – a result! I hope we can now see this project be concluded in a building that matches both the need of the Sikh community for a home, and for the exterior of the building to be retained as a building of landscape merit which local residents would like to see.”